Codify

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To codify means to arrange laws or rules into a systematic code.  The process of codification can involve taking judicial decisions or legislative acts and turning them into codified law.  This process does not necessarily create new law, it merely arranges existing law, usually by subject, into a code. 

For example, in the United States, acts of Congress are codified chronologically in the order in which they became law.  The United States Code is the collection of all such federal statutes.

When interpreting a codified law, courts sometimes refer back to the original legislation or judicial proceeding in order to understand the intent of the creator of the law.

The codification of law helps identify inconsistent laws, duplicate laws, and ambiguous laws.  Codification creates a uniform source that is easy to access for both professionals and the lay public.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]